ComAcad takes home three awards from MSA’s One Day Film Challenge

Film still from one-day film Smeared, starring Milan Wood and Bridget Goodwin.
Film still from one-day film “Smeared,” starring Milan Wood and Bridget Goodwin.
Courtesy of Ella Swain

On Sept. 30, two groups from Archie Williams’ upperclassmen communications and film academy, ComAcad, won three awards at Novato High School’s Marin School of the Arts’ (MSA) One Day Film Challenge. 67 students in 21 groups from different schools around the Bay Area entered the annual challenge to create an entire short film in one day.

Archie William’s first group, Briefly Psychotic Studios, placed third with their comedic short film, “Jess, Vaness, & The Extraterrestrial Espionage.” The group included seniors Audrey Tucker, Leonie Goffin, and Oliver Valerio. Archie Williams’ second group, Giggling Moon Productions, created by seniors Milan Wood, Harper Miller, Ella Swain, and juniors Roy Quaas and Bridget Goodwin, placed first in the challenge with their emotional short film, “Smeared,” and won “Best Production Value” from the audience. 

All work for the challenge, including filming, acting, and editing, occurred within an eight-hour window from 9 a.m. to 5 a.m. Each year, MSA requires teams to include three specific elements in their films. This year, the required elements were an echo, a paper airplane, and a “forceful” wink. 

Behind the scenes of one-day film “Jess, Vaness & the Extraterrestrial Espionage,” starring Leonie Goffin and Audrey Tucker. (Courtesy of Oliver Valerio)

At the end of the day, contestants congregated once more at Novato High School, where an audience of over 300 watched their films. After the viewings, a panel of judges voted on placement awards, and live viewers voted on audience awards.

Briefly Psychotic Studios, the creators of the short film “Jess, Vaness, & The Extraterrestrial Espionage” placed third in the MSA One Day Film Challenge. This short humorous film followed two teenagers who are mistaken for aliens and subsequently abducted. Audrey and Leonie play the two teenagers in the short, and Oliver plays Commander Blarp, the alien commander. Oliver also did the editing and special effects for the film, while Leonie and Audrey supervised sound design.

“It was really rewarding. I felt so validated when the panel judges said we placed third. I was so shocked and overjoyed at the same time,” Leonie said.

ComAcad’s first-place film, “Smeared,” told the story of a clown mourning the death of their close friend. Bringing many viewers to tears, the film’s message of loss and hope was particularly poignant. 

Milan, one of the creative minds behind the film, wanted to leave a mark with their work.

“I like being able to touch people in a way that is constructive but emotional,” Milan said.

Milan plays a grieving clown named “Mopey,” and Bridget plays Rosie, Mopey’s best friend, who comes back as a ghost to help Mopey. Mopey resents their friend for leaving them, and Rosie is effervescent, full of life even in death.

When brainstorming for the film, the team agreed that they wanted to create something moving. 

Behind the scenes of one-day film “Smeared,” featuring Milan Wood. (Harper Miller)

“I think it’s better to make a film that can make someone cry than to make someone laugh,” Roy said.

Their deeply powerful work made its mark, and “Smeared” brought home two awards at the end of the day, making it the most decorated film ever produced by ComAcad.

Roy, only in his first year of ComAcad, was especially thrilled by the wins.

“I was so excited. This was my first film ever, and I [am] so proud of it,” Roy said.

The Archie Williams ComAcad program has entered the MSA One Day Film Challenge nine times before, but never placed, making this year’s wins particularly rewarding. The attention will help them create more brilliant films in the years to come. Their next event is the showing of “American Arguments” Dec.15 at 6:30 p.m. in Archie Williams’ Little Theater.

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